A Look at Veep- Season 6, Episode 5: “Chicklet”

Let’s learn more about Selina’s father before watching her drive a car through a building.

The episode begins in Tampa, Florida.  Selina doesn’t want to set up her library in American University- even though the spot wouldn’t be for the library, just her papers.  The team dons their yellow volunteer shirts and Selina tells the crowd that she’s ready to help out for National Volunteer Work.  After one marvelous swipe with a paint roller, Selina’s volunteer work for the year is done.  Good work, team.

The team returns to Selina’s office, where Gary reveals a surprise: there’s a wax figure of Selina ready to be unveiled at Madame Tussauds.  And Selina is parked right next to Gerald Ford, so she demands that Gary have her statue moved next to a game-changing icon like Lincoln or Mao instead of looking like a has-been.

Amy believes that Selina’s anger and sudden depression are due to the heart attack, but Selina’s just in a thick fog.  Catherine suggests that her mother see a therapist, as Catherine herself has been seeing one since she was 13.  I buy it.  Said therapist would like to start a conversation between Selina and Catherine.

Also, it gets a brief mention, but Marjorie brings up that she and Catherine would like to move into Mee-Maw’s house after the baby is born.  Remember that.  Oh, and since Dan turned into a dead end, Catherine and Marjorie then turn to Richard and ask if he has any hereditary issues.

While Dan is disgusted with newspapers playing up his affair with Jane, Andrew stops by Catherine’s brownstone to do some money management when Selina arrives.  Of course, she’s not pleased to see Andrew there and that Catherine might be giving him money, but she’s fine with receiving her monthly check from Catherine.  Also, without going into detail, Andrew tells Mike that his investment is doing quite well.

Mike implores Selina to get back to the book, as he’s just received a call from the publisher.  But Selina is less interested in talking about when Hughes selected her as the his Vice President and more interested in detailing Andrew’s past affairs with, among all people, Selina’s press secretary, Louise Kellogg.  When Louise was fired as a result, Selina hired the least fuckable press secretary.

Right around when Mike started working for her.

At a fundraising dinner, Sherman Tanz introduces Jonah, Ben, and Kent to his wife, Lia, played by Ilana Guralnik, and daughter, Shawnee, played by Mary Holland.  Oh hey, it’s Shelly from Blunt Talk.  Tanz wants Jonah to mention crime whenever he talks about Daylight Saving Time, because it’ll get dark earlier all year long, which means more crime. And more crime, in turn, means more for-profit prisons.

In private, Jonah tells Shawnee about how he’s become stronger each time someone underestimated him.  I can sort of see that.

The next morning, Selina and Mike look through a scrapbook and Selina remembers when her father got her a horse, named Chicklet.  Roll credits.  But Mom soon sold her and Dad eventually died from a heart attack.  Of course.  Selina gets candid, saying that on the night her father died, the secretary came around the home at two in the morning.  Very personal, yes, but Selina has no problem talking about this, even with Mike.

Gary enters and finds the two making small talk and he’s not happy that Mike is encroaching on his territory.  Even still, Selina instead orders Gary to make them breakfast.  At least Selina hasn’t yelled at Mike yet

And an update on the Madame Tussauds situation: Selina is now bowing next to President Lu..buts now people are making inappropriate poses that make it look like they’re trying to screw Selina up the ass.  Also, it’s brief, but Selina agrees to write a recommendation letter so Mike’s daughter, Ellen, can attend the Harper Day School.

Catherine and Marjorie have elected Richard to be their sperm donor, but this is Richard we’re talking about, so it’s no surprise that he’s never masturbated before.  Doesn’t help that he had a pretty religious family in Iowa.

Meanwhile, Jonah scored with Shawnee and the two are at his office because this is where Jonah lives.  Doesn’t help that rent in D.C. is insane- tell me about it- and he can’t use campaign money.  Anyway, Shawnee picked Jonah’s outfit for the day and tells him that they’ll fuck again this evening, but with less kissing.  When Shawnee leaves, Jonah calls Richard to gloat, but turns out that Richard has good news as well.

Gary fills Amy in on the awkward Selina sculpture pose, which she finds quite hilarious. And since Amy needs something to do, she elects to help Gary.

Gary then tries to bring tea to Mike and Selina, but she’s doing two things at once: talking to Mike about the book and checking into her virtual board meeting so she can vote.  Mike notes that some of the details about Selina’s father sound odd and suggests that the two of them talk to Uncle George, but Selina maintains that her father was a good family man.  Peculiar, but all interesting people are.

And because of Mike’s persistence in this matter, the good vibe between him and Selina is effectively ruined and all pleasant relations the two had are all but gone.

That evening, Amy and Dan catch up on their respective problems when Gary arrives to tell her that the statue situation has somehow gotten worse.  Good job, Amy.  The figure’s hand is out, so visitors are posing to make it seem like Selina is cupping their privates.

How the hell anyone is getting away with this in a public museum is anyone’s guess, but Amy, fed up with her shitty situation, leaves.  Gary at least is pleased that Dan is apparently getting game with Jane McCabe.

Selina and Mike go to Uncle George to clarify details on Dad’s death.  The body wasn’t flown back because he died on the barn, not while away on business.  And worse, he died right on top of the secretary, Barbara Valeski, so she had to go to the loony bin after that. However, it wasn’t just Barbara, so this is why Mom converted the barn in order to prevent embarrassment if Dad got caught. So that’s why Selina didn’t get that snow globe.

Over at Small Joy Hill, a now drunken Selina and Mike arrive at Chicklet’s old house, where Selina proceeds to fuck shit up while ranting about her father.  She encourages Mike to join in and he does, but be careful of Selina’s pencil holder.

But then Selina goes the full nine yards and crashes the damn car into the house.  Selina realizes that this is her book: the girl who triumphed over her parents’ toxicity and had no choice but to go into politics, where she became an American icon.  Secret Service agents arrive on the scene, so Selina leaves with them.  Not Mike, though, because he crashed the car.

At CBS the next day, Stevie shows Dan a photo in the newspaper- said photo refers to Dan as Jane’s boy toy, who was supposedly palling around with Amy, even though there’s no real context for the photo.  Jane won’t tell the Post that the rumors of them being together are false because if she stops looking fuckable, she’ll be Grandma and replaced by Brie Ramachandran, played by India de Beaufort.

So yeah, Jane is the one spreading the rumors about the two of them screwing.

Ben, Kent, and Shawnee talk Jonah through his day and how they’d like him to vote on certain bills, but Shawnee tells Jonah to vote against H.R. 2029, even though that’s 300 jobs right there. True, but, as Shawnee sees it, those jobs are for people who wouldn’t vote for Jonah anyway.  And being against waste would look good statewide or even nationwide.  A ‘No’ vote it is.

Selina tells Catherine, Richard, and Marjorie that she’s turning Mee-Maw’s home into the Selina Meyer Presidential Birthplace and Library.  Well, so much for Catherine and Marjorie’s moving plans.  On the phone, Sherman Tanz is fine with the location, but he’s needs a favor, as he’s trying to get his son into Harper Day School and would like a letter of recommendation.

Since Selina isn’t about to write more than one letter, she uses the one intended for Mike’s daughter.

Hey, it’s for the library.

Catherine speaks with her therapist, Diane, played by Susan Isaacs, about her ongoing issues with her mother, but even Dr. Diane here seems fed up with Catherine.  It doesn’t help that Catherine has apparently been voicing these complaints for 14 years.

Gary and Amy tell Selina that the statue has been moved again, this time to the Truman Balcony, and she guesses correctly that people were trying to have sex with her statue. Well, it’s better than standing next to Gerald Ford.

We’re at the halfway point of the season and Selina Meyer hasn’t made much, if any, progress in her post-presidency career.  She’s made strides and ambitious moves, but nothing has translated into success or anything noteworthy.  Nothing noteworthy and positive, anyway.

While Veep is great when skewering the political process, there’s just as much heart and laughs to be gained from dealing with the personal and seeing what the characters do when they aren’t getting screwed over by Washington.  Last season’s “Mother” was a good example of that and “Chicklet” was another great opportunity to explore Selina’s personal life.

But what makes it work in hindsight is the sequence of events in which we arrived here. We know that Mike has been badgering Selina to work on the book, and it’s the combination of that and Andrew’s random appearance that prompts Selina to start remembering her father.  And as the episode progresses, we see her view of her father change from a fond memory to a nightmare.

Sure, Selina is just as awful of a person, but it’s interesting to see her worldview shattered when someone she had such a positive impression of turn out to be as sleazy as Andrew. More so because Selina’s been fed such bullshit all this years.  It’s a cathartic experience for her to wreck the barn and then go as far as crash a car through it, as if to destroy most of the memories of her father- minus the mug.

Selina mentions early on that she’s in a fog, and that’s true both for her post-presidential life, but also being lost for so long when it comes to her parents.  She’d been going by one impression for so long that for her to learn about her father’s shady lifestyle brings things to a screeching halt.

However, in her infinite ‘wisdom,’ Selina manages to turn a negative into a positive by converting the barn into the location for her library.  Sure, it’s not American University, but again, Selina is able to make the most of a terrible revelation now that she has clarity on her father’s past and the reason her mother converted the barn.

And the entire destruction of the barn is, for my money, the Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ best scene of the season thus far, as Selina just lets loose with this pent up rage.  I’m not a betting man, but screw it: if Dreyfus gets an Emmy for Veep, I’d be willing to bet it would be for this scene.

This episode made good use of both Selina and Mike, who hasn’t had much to do aside from badger Selina for money and the book.  And with him on Selina’s good side, he has more to do and it’s a change of pace for him the two to get along like friends, even though it’s over by episode’s end.  For a moment, Selina sees Mike as a colleague instead of a punching bag and it makes me wonder what that relationship would be like over time.

And even though Ellen won’t get into Harper Day School, at least Mike has content so he can start the book.  Also, at this point, since Mike’s still not getting paid, maybe he and Wendy should just consider home-schooling their kids.  If just to save some money.

It was also interesting to see how this affected Gary.  Sure, the relationship between him and Selina has gone up and down this season, but we’re talking about someone being the close confidant that Gary fills so well.  Here, Selina is laughing and sharing stories with Mike instead of Gary, so of course he’d be offended by this.

Sticking with Gary for a moment, it would’ve become tiresome if he just spent this episode glaring daggers at Mike for taking his space.  As such, I liked his and Amy’s attempts to improve Selina’s wax figure, only for them to make it worse.  It’s not enough that Selina got screwed over by Washington- now she’s getting metaphorically screwed by random tourists and kids to boot.

With Dan out of the running as a sperm donor, Catherine and Marjorie’s options are limited, so for them to go to Richard is a recipe for comedy.  Richard is so straight-laced and innocent that of course he never shook hands with the devil.  But, as Catherine points out, Richard has a good heart, so even if it takes some time, she and Marjorie have at least picked someone who is somewhat honorable.  Compared to Dan, anyway.

In addition to providing laughs from this scenario, this also builds upon Catherine and Marjorie’s attempt at starting a family, both with the baby and their potential move.  A move that’s now on hold thanks to Selina using Mee-Maw’s house for her library.  Between this and Catherine’s money management, she’s becoming very independent.  It’s character growth I appreciate, even if she’s still getting shit from everyone, including her therapist.

And Catherine even having a therapist for over a decade makes a ton of sense, though it doesn’t look like Dr. Diane is of much help.  If anything, she sounds like a second Selina.

Also, just when it seemed like Dan managed to charm Jane, it’s a great reveal that she’s been the one playing him with her spreading this news.

But he’s not the only one getting twirled around a woman’s finger this week, as Shawnee looks to have major influence on Jonah.  In effect, this makes Ben and Kent sort of pointless since no way would Jonah listen to them over someone he can screw, but the idea of Jonah being pulled in two sides sounds fun.

And Jonah’s line about becoming stronger each time someone underestimated him just proves what Ben said about disaster just elevating him instead of being a hindrance.

“Chicklet” was a great episode that gave more time to the side-characters and delved deeper into Selina’s relationship with her parents and gave us Dreyfus’ best performance of the season thus far.  It was great to watch Selina and Mike interact like good pals, but like most victories on Veep, that happiness was short lived.

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